Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke in person at the United Nations on Tuesday, blasting Russia for arming everything from food supplies to nuclear power in its desperation to conquer his country.
“When hatred is used with weapons against a nation, it never stops there,” Zelensky told the United Nations General Assembly during Tuesday’s High Level Week meeting.
“The goal of the current war against Ukraine is to turn our land, our people, our lives, our resources into weapons against you — against the rules-based international order,” he added.
“Since the start of the full-scale war, Ukrainian ports in Mavro and Azov have been blockaded by Russia,” he said. “Until now, our ports on the Danube River have been targeted by missiles and drones, and it is a clear Russian attempt to weaponize food shortages on the world market in exchange for recognizing some, if not all, of the occupied territories. ”
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Last year, the United Nations brokered a deal between the warring nations to secure vital grain trade, with Ukraine and Russia accounting for around 25% of the world’s wheat, hence Ukraine’s nickname as the “breadbasket of Europe ».
In the summer of 2023, Moscow announced it had ended the deal and then attacked Ukrainian ports just a day later as part of “massive retaliatory strikes” that Russia claimed would balance attacks by Kiev against bridges linking the peninsula of Crimea, which Russia has held since its initial invasion in 2014.
Russia has particularly focused its attacks on Odesa, where it destroyed 60,000 tons of grain, according to Ukraine’s agriculture ministry.
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Zelensky again raised Russia’s ongoing campaign to abduct children from Ukraine, which laid the groundwork for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Michael Carpenter, revealed last July that the US had information that “thousands” of children this month alone had been taken from Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine to Ukraine itself. Russia.
Zelensky pleaded with the UN on Tuesday, “What will happen to them?”
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“These children in Russia are taught to hate Ukraine and all ties with their families are broken. And this is clearly a genocide,” Zelensky said, reiterating that hatred against a country “never stops” and that Russia will continue its campaign to other countries if it succeeds in Ukraine.
“Parts of Moldova and Georgia remain occupied,” he said. “Russia reduced Syria to rubble and if not for Russia, chemical weapons would never have been used there in Syria.”
“Russia has almost swallowed Belarus,” he continued. “It clearly threatens Kazakhstan and other Baltic states, and the aim of the current war against Ukraine is to turn our lands, our people, our lives, our resources into a weapon against you – again, the international order” .
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“Many seats in the UN General Assembly Hall may become vacant if Russia succeeds in its treachery and aggression,” he stressed.
Russia has an opportunity to address the General Assembly on Saturday, when Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected on the floor. Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky sat in Russia’s place during Zelensky’s speech.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.